As the Roman Empire disintegrated during the 400's provinces all over the world that had been ruled from Rome were now open to conquest by roving peoples moving across the map of Europe in search of a safe haven. Often these moving communities consisted of hundreds of thousands of travelers on the move. One such people were the Visigoths. The Visigoths were a smaller division of the larger Gothic people that had swept in from Germany as Rome collapsed. The Romanized Visigoths first emerged as a distinct people during the 4th century, initially in the Balkans, where they participated in several wars with Rome. A Visigothic army under Alaric I eventually moved into Italy and famously sacked Rome in 410. Then they moved on. First north into France and then west into Spain.

Here is a general background on the Visigoths from Wikipedia:

The Visigothic Kingdom was a Western European power in the 5th to 7th centuries, created in Gaul when the Romans lost their control of their empire. In response to the invasion of Roman Hispania of 409 by the Vandals, Alans and Suevi, Honorius, the emperor in the West, enlisted the aid of the Visigoths to regain control of the territory. In 418, Honorius rewarded his Visigothic federates by giving them land in Gallia Aquitania on which to settle. This was probably done under hospitalitas, the rules for billeting army soldiers. The settlement formed the nucleus of the future Visigothic kingdom that would eventually expand across the Pyrenees and onto the Iberian peninsula. The Visigoths' second great king, Euric, unified the various quarreling factions among the Visigoths and, in 475, forced the Roman government to grant them full independence. At his death, the Visigoths were the most powerful of the successor states to the Western Roman Empire. The Visigoths also became the dominant power in the Iberian Peninsula, quickly crushing the Alans and forcing the Vandals into north Africa. By 500, the Visigothic Kingdom, centred at Toulouse, controlled Aquitania and Gallia Narbonensis and most of Hispania with the exception of the Suevic kingdom in the northwest and small areas controlled by the Basques and Cantabrians. However, in 507, the Franks under Clovis I defeated the Visigoths in the Vouillé and wrested control of Aquitaine. King Alaric II was killed in battle. After Alaric's death, Visigothic nobles spirited his heir, the child-king Amalaric, first to Narbonne, which was the last Gothic outpost in Gaul, and further across the Pyrenees into Hispania. The center of Visigothic rule shifted first to Barcelona, then inland and south to Toledo. From 511 to 526, the Visigoths were ruled by Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths as de jure regent for the young Amalaric. The last Arian Visigothic king, Liuvigild, conquered the Suevic kingdom in 585 and most of the northern regions (Cantabria) in 574 The kingdom survived until 711, when King Roderic (Rodrigo) was killed while opposing an invasion from the south by the Umayyad Muslims in the Battle of Guadalete on July 19. This marked the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Hispania in which most of the peninsula came under Islamic rule by 718. A Visigothic nobleman, Pelayo, is credited with beginning the Christian Reconquista of Iberia in 718, when he defeated the Umayyads in battle and established the Kingdom of Asturias in the northern part of the peninsula. Other Visigoths, refusing to adopt the Muslim faith or live under their rule, fled north to the kingdom of the Franks, and Visigoths played key roles in the empire of Charlemagne a few generations later. During their long reign in Spain, the Visigoths were responsible for the only new cities founded in Western Europe between the 5th and 8th centuries. It is certain (through contemporary Spanish accounts) that they founded four: Reccopolis, Victoriacum, Luceo, and Olite.


Excerpts from The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville provided to you in a PDF file emailed to you.

Reading Isidore offers us an insight into the Visigothic era of Spain. Isidore was the most influential Christian in Spain from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Reconquista. We will provide you with pages from the Etymologies for the required reading. The excerpts are taken from the text in this week's recommended reading.


Barney, Lewis, Beach, Berghof (translators),

The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville,

Cambridge University Press (May 24, 2010),

ISBN 0521145910


Visigothic Art in Spain